Girls are as self-centered as all kids

Girls are not born more open-minded or altruistic. Girls read stories about boys and watch movies about boys because they are trained to. (Thank you, PBS. Please see my last post.)

Doesn’t every psychologist and teacher tell us that kids need to be “mirrored?” To create healthy self-esteem, parents aren’t supposed to project their own opinions on to little kids, but reflect what the kid expresses: “You are lifting the box! You’re smiling!” etc.

So why do the “experts” forget mirroring when it comes to gender? Why do we show our kids a warped, stereotyped mirror and then exclaim, “Look at that, girls just love princesses!” Girls want to see girls. They are just as self-centered as all children are. Unfortunately, in kid world, representations of females are severely limited. They will take what they can get.

There’s a positive side to this. We can train all kids to stay open to diverse stories by exposing them to all kinds of protagonists. Please read your kids books, show your kids movies, tell your kids stories and help them write their own, do imaginary play featuring strong female characters. It will help their brains grow not to mention their self-esteem.


4 thoughts on “Girls are as self-centered as all kids

  1. Too bad this must happen. I am a girl and I watched PBS programs when I was younger, mostly featuring male protagonists and I didn’t seem to mind that there were few lead female characters, but then again, I’m a bit more tomboyish, so I tended to not like the few females that would appear since a lot of them were into clothes and makeup and such. However, now that I am older, I have only now begun to see how are media still has more male heroes than brave, independent women/girls, and even if there are shows like this, they aren’t usually as popular as shows with a male protagonist.

    Last year in English class, my teacher announced we were going to read a book about an immigrant family, featuring one of the daughters. All of the boys in my class whined and complained. “Oh no! A girl! I’m sure all she will do is talk about boys and make up and prom and every other cliched thing girls love!” No! That is not what the story was about. The girl in the story wanted a future with freedom, not a boy!

    This is a reason I want to go into screenwriting and television writing. I have my own idea for a show that has a near equal mix of both sexes of characters. It doesn’t start out that way, but since females make up 50% of the population, I want the show to seem as realistic as possible. Sure, the central character is a male, but his sister(among the seven and rising created female characters) plays a very big role too, not even involving her brother a lot of the time.

    I’m not saying there can’t be romance, and I’m not saying it’s not okay to like clothes, but if every female character likes these things, I just find the television show or movie rather boring.

  2. Hi Margot,

    I know you don’t cover NY theater as it’s on the opposite coast and it doesn’t exactly reach a gigantic audience and so it doesn’t have the same effect as say a film or a TV show. But I was reading a reviews of the new production of Cinderella and I wondered how you would feel about it. I’d email you but I don’t know how to contact you. Here are some excerpts.

    “There’s been a whole lot of fiddling with the plot too to give it politically progressive substance and those mandatory messages about self-esteem and self-empowerment. The prince’s parents (played by Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon in 1965) have been eliminated, replaced by a devious and manipulative regent figure, Sebastian (the droller-than-droll Peter Bartlett), who tricks the naïve prince, called Topher, into signing bills that repress and rob his people.

    So when Cinderella finally gets the chance to talk to her dream date at that immortal ball, instead of whispering sweet nothings, she says, “You need to open your eyes to what’s happening in your kingdom.” (Maybe she should be renamed Che-erella.)

    Like the reinvented cartoon fairy-tale heroines of the past several decades, from Disney’s “Little Mermaid” onward, this Cinderella is no passive damsel waiting for a rescuing knight. She takes charge of her destiny, so much so that she doesn’t lose that glass slipper; she hands it to the prince. It’s a conscious choice, see; she controls her narrative. And, by the way, the prince must undergo a similar process of re-education, which will allow him to conquer his self-doubts and introduce democracy to his kingdom.”
    -Ben Brantley NY Times

    “For that matter, Ella is no longer even the hero of her own fairytale. By introducing all those politically correct social issues, Beane has effectively shifted the focus of the story to the Prince, who has fallen down on the job of governing his kingdom. Key trunk songs added to the show (and given new lyrics by Beane and Chase) either build up Topher’s character (“Me, Who Am I?”) or define the challenges he faces in cleaning up the rampant political corruption in his court (“Now is the Time”).

    Although Ella does make a brief appearance in the prologue set in the woods, the show really opens at the castle, with a new song for Topher. “I just don’t even know who I am yet,” he says, before launching into his existential cri de Coeur “Me, Who Am I?” As Topher’s prize for being a good prince, Cinderella has become a secondary character in a story about a guy who mans up and resolves his identity crisis.”

  3. The majority of the shows and films I watch have female protagonists. The majority of the books I read do as well (and they’re often written by women but that’s a separate point). I don’t think girls necessarily don’t want to be princesses. If all princesses sound like Jodi Benson and Lea Salonga then I want to be a princess. 🙂 But I agree that girls just want to see themselves represented in media so they’ll gravitate towards properties where they see other girls. And speaking for myself, even if watching or reading something that’s dominated by male characters, I will always seek out the female character and focus on what she’s doing. Even if it ends up being depressing in the long run. Ophelia, anyone?

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